Puff, the Magic Mushroom (No, not *that* kind of magic)

That's my Sexy Mushroom Dance. With Calvatia gigantea, left.

That's my Sexy Mushroom Dance. With Calvatia gigantea.

The giant puffball is what they call a “choice edible.” If so, I thought when I spotted it on the trail, then it’s a choice edible masquerading as the biggest marshmallow I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen pictures of Calvatia gigantea that dwarfed small children (already dwarfish, if you ask me), but this was still shocking.

The insides are pure-white and spongy, an awful lot like Wonder Bread. Also dismaying: a slight, unpleasant medicinal flavor when raw.

Wonder Fungus, with crusts removed.

Wonder Fungus, with crusts removed.


But hold on—fry up those thick steaks and they into Heaven, Fungal Heaven. They cook way, way down into something like a mushroom-scented custardy cheese with a crisp brown crust. Or like what tofu wishes it were.

A perfect sandwich: two puffball steaks, greens and a smear of tomato confit.

Wisdom of the Tubes: Tom Volk, the University of Wisconsin mushroom expert, details how puffballs may be used as crash-test dummies, snowmen and butt implants.

Now I am sad. I have eaten the puffball. I keep going for bike rides and getting my hopes up. But all the white poufs I spot on the roadside turn out to be Giant Trashballs.

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2 responses to “Puff, the Magic Mushroom (No, not *that* kind of magic)

  1. I once had a similar experience in Shenandoah Nat’l Park with a Satan’s Bolete. Driving by at 40 MPH I slammed on the brakes, alarming my younger brother quite a bit, to find not a 10 pound choice edible but a 10 pound slightly poisonous foot stool.

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